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Sharon Hunter - September 2021

A Different Way With Words

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The Eulogy. It’s often the funeral element that causes the most angst and raises the most questions leading up to the day. What do you say? How much is too much? Should it be a well-documented chronicle of their life? Or should it lean more towards capturing the essence and character of the person? You want those who have gathered nodding in agreement as you paint a picture. You may wish to make them smile, even laugh a little. Ultimately, you want the eulogy to capture who they were.

In their own words

A friend of mine recently gave a Great Goodbye to her father. He was a storyteller, and a good one.

Their dining table was centre stage for family conversations, the place where everyone battled to be heard over laughter and good-natured debates. That’s where her father told his stories. Some were about his life on the land; the tough times and the good. Other stories made them laugh so hard, it hurt. The grandkids also came to love her dad’s tales.

In his later years, Sally gave him a Dictaphone and asked him to recount his life in those stories. His words became a book for the family. In compiling the book, Sally left her father’s words intact, changing only the order of the stories to chronologically follow the years of his life.

When he died, Sally was given the task of giving the eulogy. In a quiet moment of reflection, she sat at her computer to compose the speech. That’s when Sally remembered her father’s book. When she opened the pages and read, it was obvious how to proceed with the eulogy.

"To find the right words for a eulogy, you might sometimes find they have already been spoken."

At the funeral, no one gave the traditional speech citing when the man was born, where he went to college, who he married, and so on. Instead, each family member read a paragraph lifted from the pages of his book. They spoke his words.

Through the voices of his family, Sally’s father recounted funny stories, momentous occasions, great achievements, regrets and musings. Those who knew the man recognized his tone of phrasing, his matter-of-fact style, and his tale-telling exaggerations. They felt his presence in a profound way, and Sally’s father got to tell his final story.

To find the right words for a eulogy, you might sometimes find they have already been spoken.

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